Vince Lombardi

QuantCoach.com

No Monday Morning Quarterbacks

Follow QuantCoach on Twitter

WELCOME to QuantCoach.com, the only site on the world-wide web that provides meaningful professional football coaching statistics. QuantCoach.com's revolutionary coaching statistics are derived from a peer-reviewed and generally accepted theory of competition known as Growth Theory. Veteran coach Bill Parcells once said, "If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries." But Growth Theory teaches us that success "springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking." In professional football, those "recipes" are the plays that coaches design. Simply, QuantCoach.com's coaching statistics separate the contribution of plays to pro football success from the contribution of players.

THE ARCHIVES (2018-Part 1)

QC's Week 3 Thoughts

It is hard to imagine that one NFL team could look past another as much as Minnesota looked past Buffalo in its 27-6 loss. The Vikings must have been looking ahead to their game this Thursday in LA with the powerful Rams. Mike Zimmer's team was totally unprepared to play the Bills as demonstrated by the fact Minnsota attempted only 6 rushes (6 rushes!!) against a team that had yielded more than 100 yards in both of its first two games. The almost complete absence of rushing attempts indicates the Vikings, who were favored by 16.5 points, had never thought about, much less prepared, for falling behind in this game. The shocking result is just another reminder that NFL coaches have to be ready for anything every Sunday.

****

He may be well past his prime, but Washington RB Adrian Peterson showed that he still owns the Packers. Peterson came into the game with 1,779 career rushing yards in 17 games against Green Bay (104.6 per game), the most he has gained against any one team. Peterson gashed the Packers for 120 yards and 2 TDs as the Redskins cruised to a 31-17 win.

****

Miami HC Adam Gase is looking like a strong candidate for COY as the Dolphins moved to 3-0 with a 28-20 win over Jon Gruden's 0-3 Raiders. With the win, Miami raised its play design +/- to +7.63% and its turnover differential to +4. The Dolphins prevailed despite no running game as Gase drew up designs for 4 TD passes, including a nifty TD pass from WR Albert Wilson to WR Jakeem Grant on a reverse. Miami travels to New England this week with a chance to take control of the AFC East with a win over the vulnerable Patriots (1-2).

****

The craziness in the NFL's kicking game moved from placekickers to punters in Week 3. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan (5 TD passes) and rookie WR Calvin Ridley (7-146-3 TDs) enjoyed career days against New Orleans. But the contest turned in Q3 when the Saints blocked a Falcons punt. The Saints scored TDs on their next 4 drives (not counting a kneel down at the end of regulation), including the first possession of OT, to win, 43-37. The Chargers lost contact with the Rams in Q2 of their "Battle for LA" when Blake Countess snuffed a punt in the end zone and recovered it for a TD that game the Rams a 21-6 lead and sparked a 35-23 win. For good measure, Chargers K Caleb Sturgis also missed a PAT.

****

The breakout star of Week 3 was Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey, who gashed Cincinnati for 184 yards on 28 carries in a 31-21 win over Cincinnati. As a team, the Panthers piled up over 200 rushing yards on 41 carries and 2 TDs (both from QB Cam Newton). It will be interesting to see if Panthers' OC Norv Turner will continue to use McCaffrey as a "between-the-tackles" 1DN bank, or if McCaffrey will return to more of the hybrid RB/WR role that he has mostly played before the meeting with the Bengals.

(Archives Home)

 

Week 3: QC's Best Bets

This Week 3 card is like no other card QC can ever remember. It presents a couple unusual opportunities to "bet like a banker." Typically, by Week 3, bookmakers are installing better desgined teams as favorites in about 75-80% of all games. But the better designed teams are only favorites in half the games this Week 3. Perhaps that is because better designed teams hav only won 63% of all games (disregarding ties). Better designed teams usually start much quicker than that and frequently win at an 80% of better clip in the first two weeks. Perhaps the epidemic of kicking miscues is the reason. In any event, QC has some never-before-seen-here plays to consider.

1. PARLAY: Jaguars -7 over Titans and UNDER 39.5
Tennesse swept Jacksonville last year, but from the way the Jaguars played against the Patriots in Week 2 this looks like a more mature team. QB Blake Bortles has become confident enough to patiently let the game come to him. Against New England, he targeted RBs and TEs on 19 throws and methodically took Bill Belichick's defense apart. RB Corey Grant has developed into one of the NFL's top out-of-the-backfield pass catchers and Tennessee's pass coverage has been awful (9.123 QCYPA). Defensively, Jacksonville should be able to control the Titans even if banged up QB Marcus Mariota makes a go of it. Even with (mostly) Mariota at QB, Tennessee is 2-6-1 ATS on the road since the beginning of 2016. Take away DB Kevin Byard's 66-yard TD pass against Houston last week and Tennessee's QCYPA is 5.712. Further, the Titans also have a kickoff return TD this year in addition to the fake punt TD pass, which means their offense is averaging just 13 points per game. Now it faces what might be the best D in the NFL (or at least the AFC). The Jaguars need to be solid in the kicking game and not give up any cheap points on returns or fake punts. If Jacksonville is alert, it should be able to pound out a win. Something like 20-7 sounds about right.

2. OVER 41.5: Texans vs. NY Giants
The Giants' offensive line and QB Eli Manning are getting ripped for their performances the first two weeks of the season. Don't overreact. New York faced what might be the two best defenses in the NFL in Jacksonville and Dallas. The G-men did not thrive, but they hung in there. If not for a Jacksonville pick-6 Week 1 and a long pass Dak Prescott to Tavon Austin (Dallas) Week 2, New York might be 2-0, not 0-2. Sometimes the difference between failure and success is that thin. Houston's defense looks good on paper, but so far the Texans pass coverage has been pretty soft (8.066 D-QCYPA). There is plenty of explosive playmaking on both sides just waiting to go off in Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley on the New York side and DeShaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller on the Houston side. In addition, both Manning and Watson have the potential to turn the ball over 2 or 3 times in any game. And TOs lead to points. With both teams 0-2 SU and ATS, it seem risky to get involved with the side. The OVER feels like the safest play here.

3. Chiefs -6 (at the open) over 49ers
Kansas City is 11.89% better designed than its opponents despite playing both games on the road. OC Eric Bienemy is doing a fabulous job designing plays for young gun QB Pat Mahomes, who has an amazing collection of weapons. Since 2009, teams that are 10% better designed than their opponents entering Week 3 are 9-1 SU and 8-1-1 ATS. Only the 2012 Eagles, who committed 9 TOs in their first two games and later collapsed and finished 4-12, failed to cover. That collapse cost Andy Reid his job in Philadelphia. But it is highly unlikel it will happen again to Reid now. The Chiefs have the same "machine-like" look as the 1984 Dolphins of Dan Marino and the 2011 Packers of Aaron Rogers, who combined were 29-3 in the regular season. San Francisco HC Kyle Shannahan is a marvelous play designer and Jimmy Garoppolo has been hanging in there despite poor pass protection (-1.254 sack yards lost per pass attempt). But Shanny and Jimmy G just don't have the juice to keep up with KC. The 49ers No. 1 WR, Pierre Garcon, might be No. 5 on the Chiefs. The Kansas City faithful has been watching the fireworks on TV for two weeks and should be wildly out of control for their first opportunity for a live show. (Note: The -6 open has now moved to -6.5 and probably will move further against the Chiefs by kickoff so don't wait.)

4. Rams ML (-320) over Chargers and
5. Chargers +7 over Rams

This is an intriguing game. Essentially, both teams are at home (or maybe there is no home team) so there should be no home field advantage for either team. The Rams have not given up a point for 6 quarters and obliterated Arizona last week, 34-0, and public perception of their greatness could not be higher. HC Sean McVay's team is 10.21% better designed that its opponets, so it qualifies for the same trend as the Chiefs. But the Chargers are potentially a lot better than a 7-point subsidy suggests. In 18 games under HC Anthony Lynn and DC Gus Bradley, they have failed to cover 7 points just 3 times (all in 2017) : twice against Kansas City (at -7 TO) and at New England (at -1 TO). In 2018, Chargers' QB Phil Rivers has been outstanding (9.205) and actually more productive than Rams' QB Jared Goff (9.185 QCYPA). If Rivers can avoid turnovers, they should be able to stay connected. Further, if the Chargers can strike early and go to the lead, McVay has been known to abandon Todd Gurley and the running game and it could get a lot harder for Goff, especially because the Chargers have some pass rush even without Joey Bosa. The Rams' money line is expensive, but you can hedge against the risk by also taking the Chargers and the points, which creates a creative opportunity for a synthetic middle (Rams win, but by less than 7 points). A wager of $320 on the Rams' ML and $352 on the Chargers +7: (a) gains exposure to a 62.5% profit if the Rams win by less than 7; (b) gains exposure to 14.9% profit if the Rams win by exactly 7; (c) reduces the risk of a Chargers victory to $0; (d) and will cost $252 (not $352) if the Rams win by more than 7 because you will receive a $100 profit on the Rams' ML. In other words, you can structure this bet so that the only way you can lose money is if the Rams win by 8 or more points, and even if that happens you will lose about 21% to 28% less money than if you nakedly bet the Rams to win on the money line or bet $352 on the Chargers +7 .

6. Cardinals +6 over Bears and
7. UNDER 38 (no parlay)

Arizona has been so unspeakably bad on offense in 2018 that K Phil Dawson has yet to attempt a field goal or a PAT. The Cardinals have been able to get close enough to the goal line for an attempt only one time and on that occasion they were already so far behind they went for a 2-point PAT. Doh! But, as the Bears know, such offensive ineptitude does not mean winning is impossible. After all, in 2017, Chicago defeated Carolina 17-3 despite QB Mitch Trubisky completing just 4 passes and the Bears generating just 5 first downs. Trubisky has been very shaky in 2018, as demonstrated by his 5.217 QCYPA and Chicago's 2.12 player productivity. And Arizona still should be able to play good defense, especially at home. Cardinals' OC Mike McCoy needs to get RB David Johnson going in both the running and the passing game. That will be tough against Khalil Mack and company. But the Bears secondary has given up some big plays. If McCoy loosens up a little and lets QB Sam Bradford try some deeper throws to Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, he might hit a shot or two. The Cardinals enter the game a dreadful -18.38% worse designed than their opponets. But since 2009, teams entering Week 3 that are at least 10% worse designed than their opponets are 7-4 SU and 8-3 ATS and have stayed within 6 points or less 9 times (82%). Further, matchups like this have stayed under 38 points 8 times in those 11 games. If you disregard the two games involving the high scoring Saints, 8 of the remaining 9 games have stayed under 38 points. Only the Colts 31-28 win over the Browns in 2017 is the exception. Combined the Bears (16.5 points per game on offense) and the Cardinals (3 points per game on offense) are averaging just 19.5 points per game on offense (Chicago's D has scored 14 points). Arizona has been terribly inefficient and unproductive, but it has committed only 3 turnovers in its losses, the same as Chicago, so it is unlikely that one team or the other will enjoy a big turnover margin. If neither team gets points from its defense or special teams, it is hard to see how this game gets beyond the low 30s. Further, QC is 4-0 to the under and the only single snap in any of those games on which theoretically a game could have gone over was the Bears' victory formation kneel down against Seattle on Week 2 MNF. In other words, the unders so far have been no sweat. If McCoy and Bradford cannot generate at least a few big plays, the UNDER can serve as a potential insurance policy here.

Last Week: 4-2
Season: 9-3-1

(Archives Home)

 

QC Thoughts on Week 2

Tennessee HC Mike Vrabel (and his staff) earned his first win as an NFL HC with a 20-17 triumph over Houston. Without starting his starting QB, TE and both Ts, Vrabel and his staff manufactured 7 points on a fabulous fake punt that S Kevin Byard turned into a TD pass. The Titans also ran some Wildcat with RB Darrick Henry and manufactured just enough offense to win. Nobody gave the Titans a shot because of all their injuries. But Vrabel and his staff did not commit the unpardonable sin of becoming spectators in the face of adversity. They designed. And stole a win.

****

The Titans were not the only impressive AFC South team. Jacksonville pretty much handled New England, 31-20. Jaguars' QB Blake Bortles tossed 4 TD passes as he spread the ball around to J'ville's mostly anonymous receiving corps. Perhaps most indicative of the Jaguars dominance: HC Doug Marrone's team won the game despite losing the TO battle, 2-1. That almost never happens against Bill Belichick's Patriots, who came into the game 143-15 under Belichick when winning the TO battle.

****

After watching Kansas City's Pat Mahomes torch Pittsburgh for 6 TD passes in a 42-37 win over the Steelers, QC couldn't help but think how much the Chiefs' look like the 2011 Packers. That year Green Bay started 13-0 and scored 30 or more points in 9 of those games and 40 or more points in 5 of those games. Aaron Rogers finished the year with 45 TD passes. Mahomes is on a pass to throw an astounding 80 TD passes. There is no way he can keep up that pace, but if OC Eric Bienemy's equisitely designed attack continues to put up astro numbers.

****

Hard luck Hue Jackson's Cleveland Browns, who lost to New Orleans, 21-18, are using a winning recipe, but they are missing one ingredient. DC Gregg Williams' defensive unit is both creating turnover subsidies (+6 TO) and harassing opposing QBs (-.684 sack yards lost per pass attempt). On the other side of the ball, QB Tyrod Taylor is avoiding TOs, as is his signature. But to make this recipe tasty, a team needs to be rock solid in the kicking game. And the Browns have been anything but. (Now former) K Zane Gonzalez endured a brutal day against the Saints. While the fan base will not begin pining in earnest for No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield to take over at QB, the fact is Cleveland would be 2-0 if its kicker had simply made his field goals.

****

Oakland is another team that is winless because of kicking miscues. Against the Broncos, old pro Mike Nugent missed a PAT, which proved to be the difference when the Broncos rallied to win. The Raiders were considerably better designed than Denver and won the TO battle (+1). That is a game that NFL teams win 95% of hte time. It has grind new HC Jon Gruden's gears to let that one slip away. Nugent survived for now, but with his weak leg (Gruden passed up a 50-yard field goal attempt to start Q4), he will not for long if he fails again. In this day, a team that has a reliable kickert from 50 to 55 yards has a huge edge. With that in mind, it is perplexing why no team is willing to take a chance on John Brown, who showed easy 55-yard range in the Bengals camp before Cincinnati turned him loose in favor of the uninspiring Kyle Bullock. Certainly, Brown could do no worse than Nugent, Gonzalez, and other NFL kickers that struggled Sunday. And if Brown can handle the pressue, a team would essentially have a weapon fall into its lap.

(Archives Home)

 

Week 2: QC's Best Bets

The Lions collapse on MNF was the only pimple on QC's otherwise shining 5-1-1 Week 1 complexion. If the only bets we lose are the ones where our team turns it over 5 times, gives up a punt return for a TD, and the opposing coach decipher's our QB's audible signals, we will be just fine. By the way, did you notice how Jets HC Todd Bowles walked back the story on the signals? Well, we didn't know their signals "per se" the lawerly sounding Bowles said as he hoped the story would just go away. Bowles clearly is trying to minimize the chance that another team urges Roger Goodell to send his four-figure an hour keystone cops to come talk to him about this more. What the Jets did is not that different than what happened in Spygate. The only difference is that the Jets figured out the signals a Detroit player gave on the field while in Spygate New England figured out signals that the Jets coaches gave from off the field on the sideline. Personally, QC believes deciphering signals given in front of tens of thousands of people is part of the competition whether the signaler is one foot inside the sideline or one foot outside the sideline or whether the signals are given by a player or a coach. It's called "skunking" under all these circumstances and it has been part of the game for over 50 years. It is the most fun part of the game (in QC's opinion). The fact the Jets got their intelligence from a player in the game video, as opposed to making a special video of coaches on the sideline, should be enought to keep the league office out of their grill. But QC can see why Bowles is downplaying his achievement. That's smart. And an HC who is smart enough to figure out the Lions' audible signals is certainly smart enough to know how to minimize the risk of negative externaities arising. Great job, Coach Bowles!! Now, on to this week.

There is a ton to like on the board. Detroit +6 seems like an overreaction and the Packers +1 and Jaguars +1.5 at home both are attractive. But there is so much uncertainty about Aaron Rogers' knee and Jacksonville is 1-9 SU in its last 10 Week 2 games and the Patriots are on a 25-8 regular season ATS roll. The lesson from Week 1 is don't let your ego lead you to greed and betting into a bad trend (like the success of rookie Week 1 QBs). For once, QC is going to take his own advice and stay away from all these games. Besides, there are still a half dozen low hanging apples that we can easily pick from the Week 2 tree.

1. UNDER 48.5: Redskins vs. Colts
QC is going right back to the well after the UNDER played out just as QC thought it would in Week 1 when the Redskins faced the Cardinals. It is unlikely that Indianapolis will be able to run the ball any better on Washington than Arizona did. Thus, Andrew Luck is likely to throw 50 passes. Before his injury, this would not deter Luck. He would go risk seeking and let it rip. Often the result was interceptions, especially on the road, and massive home team point totals. But against the Bengals, post-injury Luck looked more cautious after an early pick cost the Colts points. If a little more cautious Luck shows up, the UNDER is a strong bet because Redskins QB Alex Smith and old warhorse RB Adrian Peterson will methodically hold onto the ball and control the clock. Don't worry that the number is moving in the opposite direction and has inflated to 48.5. It will not take much longer for the bettors to recognize that Washington is a team made in UNDER heaven. Now is the time to grab some cheap grace.

2. Chargers -7.5 over Bills
Phil Rivers and the Chargers racked up 33 first downs in Week 1 as they tried in vain to rally agains Kansas City. On the other side of coin, Buffalo QBs Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen could muster just 10 first downs against Baltimore. This is bankable data you can count on. LA can move the ball. The Bills cannot. In 2017, teams that accumulated 30 or more first downs in a game were 5-1 ATS. Teams that could manage no more than 10 first downs were 2-13 ATS. It will take a lot of turnovers and/or special teams blunders for Buffalo to stay in this game. When Rivers and the Chargers are on the other side, such a fiasco is always possible. Followers are well aware that there is little in NFL handicapping that QC enjoys less than backing Phil Rivers. But this is one of the rare spots where QC will roll the dice and hold his breath.

3. Chiefs +4.5 over Steelers
This feels like line made solely out of respect for past accomplishments ... and the betting public's respect for past accomplishments. And it feels very wrong. Andy Reid on the road and catching points is something that usually is going to get a long look from QC. This spot is particularly intriguing as Pittsburgh played an extra quarter of football in Cleveland last week and might have a little less gas in the tank than it otherwise might have. That could be a bigger problem than normal because Reid is fielding a track team this year. WR/Returner Tyreek Hill wrecked the Chargers last week almost single-handedly and might be the most dangerous stick of dynamite in the NFL since Washington’s Darrell Green. Pittsburgh DC Keith Butler will have to give Hill a massive amount of attention, which should leave TE Travis Kelce, WR Sammie Watkins, and RB Kareem Hunt in favorable matchups. The Steelers front seven chased Browns QB Tyrod Taylor 47 times last week (and caught him 7 times). That may take some zip out of their pass rushing legs this week. On offense, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has aches and pains earlier in the season than usual. Moreover, he threw 3 interceptions and lost 2 fumbles last week. Given Big Ben’s injuries and butter fingers, Pittsburgh HC Mike Tomlin probably will try to lean on RB James Conner, who gouged the Browns. The Chiefs’ run D is much better when DT Chris Jones is in the lineup (as he will be for this game) and DC Bob Sutton signed 325-pound Xavier Williams as a restricted free agent for a reason. Besides, it is hard for QC to believe the Steelers can plod past the KC Light(ning) Brigade on the back of James Conner. Finally, Andy Reid’s teams are streaky. In 2017, the Chiefs had a 5-game winning streak to start the season and another 4-game winning streak to close the season. In 2016 they won 5 in a row and in 2014 they won 11 in a row. As Durham Bulls’ catcher Crash Davis once said, “A player on a streak has to respect the streak.” Likewise, if a bookmaker will give us more than a field goal as an inducement to get in early on a potential Andy Reid winning streak, the least we can do is show a little respect and jump in with both feet.

4. Saints -9 over Browns
Like Pittsburgh, Cleveland has an extra quarter of football wear on it. But unlike the Steelers who are snug in their home beds, the Browns have to go on the road to one of the tougher places to play in the NFL, New Orleans. HC Hue Jackson will have to bring more offense with him if he is going to stem the cries to replace QB Tyrod Taylor at QB with Baker Mayfield. Taylor could not generate much offense against Pittsburgh even though the Cleveland defense provide 6 turnovers. Taylor will have to combine with WR Josh Gordon on some big plays for the Browns to stay in contact. That could happen. The Saints secondary gave up big plays galore last week to Tampa Bay receivers like Mike Evans and O.J. Howard. Like those two, Gordon is a big, fast deep-threat. You can bet Jackson and OC Todd Haley are looking closely at what the Bucs did to DC Dennis Allen’s pass coverage last week. QC expected New Orleans' defense to regress to the mean some in 2018, but he never anticipated complete collapse at the hands of Dirk Koetter and Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, the Saints' D limped out of the gate last year too against Minnesota’s Sam Bradford. But the unit jelled and improved as the season progressed. DL Cameron Jordan is a force and rookie DE Marcus Davenport showed tremendous speed and quickness in Week 1 and could become very disruptive. Jordan and his teammates had no trouble with Tyrod Taylor last year in a 47-10 wipeout of Buffalo. At this point, there is not much too think they won't be able to control Taylor again. Nothing seems wrong with the New Orleans offense. QB Drew Brees nearly matched Ryan Fitzpatrick rocket serve-for-rocket serve last week. Only a couple of killer turnovers, one a fumble that was returned for a TD, stopped the attack. With RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas, Brees has plenty of weapons. The last element of this matchup is the chalk battle between Saints HC Sean Payton and his former DC Gregg Williams. Surely Williams remembers how Payton through him under the bus in "Bounty-gate" and would like nothing better than to drive Myles Garrett all over Brees as payback. But raw hate doesn't win football games. The hunch here is that Payton knows that Williams guesses on defense and will be prepared to make the Browns pay when Williams does. If Payton is successful, his offense will avoid the turnovers that doomed their Week 1 and if the defense keeps Gordon under control, New Orleans should rebound with at least a 10-point win.


5. Giants +3 over Cowboys
This is a matchup of two teams that like to slug opponents in the mouth coming off close losses in which they got slugged in the mouth. Expect more of the same Sunday night. New York went toe-to-toe with Jacksonville’s defense and actually was the better designed team. But a killer pick-6 that Eli Manning threw to Myles Jack proved too much to overcome. The Cowboys’ defense is also good, so Manning cannot do that again and get out of Dallas with a win. He can get a win if he can get the ball to his two home run hitters, Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley, and TE Evan Engram (a high OBP type). The Cowboys’ D played well enough to win last week in Carolina and even forced a turnover on its own goal line to stay in the game. It will need a similar effort against the Giants to prevail. Dallas QB Dak Prescott ran into as much trouble as QC expected he would in Carolina. With a small, inexperienced , and not very fast or physical receiving crew, Prescott had to hold the ball too long waiting for someone to get open and absorbed 6 sacks. With the offense off schedule, HC Jason Garrett and OC Scott Linehan could not feed rushes to Zeke Elliott and accumulate the 30 rushes the Cowboys need to win and cover games. Dallas is 1-8 ATS in its last 9 games in which it has run the ball less than 30 times. New York has a supreme run stuffer in Damon Harrison and will get DE Olivier Vernon back from injury too. QC does not expect the Cowboys will be able to reach their required run threshold unless Manning provides some turnovers. And if Prescott is not as careful with the ball as he was last week in Carolina, this could get out of hand and Garrett’s seat in Dallas could get warm early as Jerry Jones is a patient with just about everything about his HC except getting embarrassed by a long-time rival in prime time. Ask Wade Phillips.

6. UNDER 43.5: Bears vs. Seahawks
Seattle put up 24 points in a Week 1 loss at Denver, but the Seahawks needed Broncos' QB Case Keenum to throw 3 interceptions to do so. Without those turnovers, Pete Carroll's team probably only tallies 14 or at most 17 points. Denver uber rusher Von Miller led a devastating rush that sacked Seattle QB Russell Wilson 6 times and shut down the Seahawks' ground game. It is likely that Khalil Mack and friends will wreak similar havoc as Seattle just cannot seem to figure how to get offensive linemen to block. Wilson threw 2 late interceptions last week so (at least for the first half) he might be a little more cautious, especially since WR Doug Baldwin is out and RB C.J. Prosise may have to play WR. Chicago is no juggernaut itself on offense. QB Mitch Trubisky could muster just 4.429 QCYPA against a Green Bay defense that has been pretty soft the last few years. The Bears still would prefer to have Jordan Howard run the ball 30 times than Trubisky throw it 30 times and the way Denver ran on Seattle he might just get those carries. Since Trubisky took over as Chicago's starting QB, the Bears are +8 TO so it is unlikley that Trubisky will provide a bundle of easy points for either side.

Last Week: 5-1-1 (.833)
Season: 5-1-1 (.833)

(Archives Home)

 

QC's Week 1 Thoughts

Well, after one week of the 2018 season, Tampa Bay and HC Dirk Koetter are the best coached team in the NFL and Hue Jackson's Browns--who were -28 TO in 2017--are an NFL best +5 TO. Just like everyone expected, right?

*****

Buccaneers' backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick lit up New Orleans for not only 4 TDs, but also for 16.321 QCYPA. That is the highest QCYPA figure in any game since Week 10 of 2011 when Houston QB Matt Schaub posted 17.000 QCYPA in a 37-9 rout of Tampa Bay.

*****

On the other side of the coin, Buffalo's Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen (2.121), Cleveland's Tyrod Taylor (3.265), and Philadelphia's Nick Foles (3.400) all posted such meager QCYPA that their teams' production was far below the JaMarcus Cable of 2.00 player productivity. Still, their teams' managed to go 1-1-1 as Atlanta and Pittsburgh shot themveles in the feet.

****

The last time we saw the New England defense, it looked like Swiss cheese in Super Bowl 52 against Philadelphia. It looked a lot better against Houston in a 27-20 win. The Patriots D held Texans' QB Deshaun Watson to just 4.941 QCYPA and production below the JaMarcus Cable (1.99 player productivity).

****

Washington racked up 30 first downs and controlled the ball for a staggering 38:08 of the game in a 24-6 beatdown of Arizona. Washington brought in speedy WR Paul Richardson from Seattle to stretch the field vertically and create room for its terrific underneath targets: RB Chris Thompson, TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder. No designer has ever gotten rich on "Content to Make a Living" Alex Smith. But Jay Gruden's offense may be better suited to Smith than his predecessor, Kirk Cousins.

*****

Sorry for giving out that Lions pick, gang. QC watched almost all of Matt Patricia's debut as HC against Todd Bowles and the Jets, which is unusual. (QC rarely has enough uninterrupted free time to watch a whole game.) For most of it, QC thought Lions' QB Matt Stafford must have developed a 1980s-level cocaine problem the way he was throwing the ball right to the Jets' defenders. Then, the morning after the game, it was reported some of the New York defenders had deciphered the Lions' hand signals and knew where the ball was going before it was snapped. It looked like it. Plays are predictions so if the Jets knew the play before the snap they could "fix" the outcome, sort of the like the con in the movie "The Sting." That was some brilliant decoding work by Bowles and his staff. Patricia, on the other hand, looked for much of the game like a guy who knew someone was getting over on him. Bet he was furious with OC Jim Bob Cooter for not being more careful to keep the Lions' code secret.

****

But Patricia can only be mad at himself for the terrible play of Detroit's special teams and defense. The Lions D made rookie, first-time starter Sam Darnold look like an All-Pro. But that really is not that unusual. With Darnold's cover, rookie Week 1 starting QBs are now 13-5-1 ATS against experienced veteran passers. Of the QBs who did not cover, Cam Newton pushed, Sam Bradford came up a point short, and Russell Wilson was throwing into the end zone for a backdoor push last , all against Arizona. Only Stafford, Andrew Luck, and Ryan Tannehill really got bombed. Of course, the vast majority of these QBs were all very high 1RD picks. They were drafted to play right away. QC should have known better than to bet into the teeth of that trend. It won't happen again.

(Archives Home)

 

Week 1: QC's Best Bets

QC is going to do "Best Bets" a little different this year. In the past, QC has given 5 picks every week against the line established by the Westgate Super Contest. This year QC's picks will not be a fixed number (there could less than 5 or more than 5) and picks also will include totals. This is experimental and we will just go from there. As usual, there is a lot to like in Week 1 so let's do this:

1. UNDER 43.5: Cardinals vs. Redskins
It's not just that these two teams slugged out a classic 20-15 field goal fest late last year that nobody saw but QC (who was playing Arizona one way or the other virtually every week down the stretch). It is so much more than that. The Cardinals played great D during the last 7 games after DB Budda Baker became a starter and held opponents to 79 yards rushing per game and 19.7 points per game. That means new Redskins' QB Alex Smith will be key and Smith is the consumate TO-avoiding, safety-first check down artist. QC is hoping that Washington RB Chris Thompson can do some business for QC's fantasy team and Thompson is a great fit with Smith, but don't expect Thompson to be a big threat in the red zone. On the other side of ball, Arizona's new HC Steve Wilks and OC Mike McCoy also want to be cautious, as they should with a great defense. McCoy is known for a short passing game and QB Sam Bradford is usually careful with the ball. RB David Johnson is back and Washington was the worst team in the NFL at stopping the run in 2017. Ahhh, here is the special information you have come to depend on QC to provide. Before DT Jonathan Allen was injured and lost for the season, the Redskins only yielded 87 yards rushing per game and 20.8 points per game. Allen is back and now he is joined by massive No. 1 draft pick, DT Da'Ron Payne, who has looked great in preseaon after getting over an ankle injury. Unless an unexpected turnover storm breaks out, this looks like another field goal fest. (Fantasy Note: QC is carrying Washington K Dustin Hopkins on his fantasy team and added Cardinals K Phil Dawson to MrsQC's fantasy team in the Bro-In-Law Fantasy Football League.)

2. Bengals +3 over Colts
Cincinnati is catching points and should be coming off a year in which the Bengals finished a lousy -9 TO. But Marvin Lewis' QB, Andy Dalton, usually protects the ball better than that and QC expects a bounce-back year. Dalton has bountiful weapons in WRs A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross; TEs Tyler Kroft and Tyler Eifert (who can be spotted because of Kroft's emergence) and RBs Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard. Cincinnati upgraded the line with standout T Cordy Glenn and rookie C Billy Price. There are still some questions up front, but the pass protection has got to be better than it was in 2017 (-.518 yards sack yards lost per pass attempt). But Dalton does not have near the problems that Andrew Luck has. Indianapolis had the worst pass protection in football in 2017 (-.686 sack yards lost per pass attempt). On top of that, G Jack Mewhort retired and T Anthony Castonzo is quetionable. No. 1 draft pick Quenton Nelson and C Ryan Kelly are nice building blocks, but they won't help on the edge against Cincinnati's trio of young rushers, Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis and Sam "Bad Mutha" Hubbard. Bengals' DB William Jackson is a lockdown corner and if he follows T.Y. Hilton he could make him disappear and leave Luck without any options.

3. Dolphins +1.5 over Titans
New HC Mike Vrabel and his design team are going to have to prove it to QC. Tennesse was 2-5-1 ATS on the road in 2017. Yes, the Titans won a playoff game at Kansas City, but in that game everything went there way from Chiefs' DT Chris Jones' injury to Titans' QB Marcus Mariota throwing a TD pass to himself. Tennessee's opponents combined to generously provide 35 more turnovers than they received, and the Titans still finished -4 TO. Some are thinking new OC Matt LaFleur will be just want Mariota needs becasue LaFleur has worked with Kyle Shannahan and Sean McVay the last 2 years. QC has a different take. What if things don't go as planned? Who will LaFleur turn to? It is a lot easier to look like a genius around Shannahan and McVay than it is on your own. Maybe LaFleur will be awseome, but QC is taking a wait and see approach, especially since the Dolphins have two veteran edge rushers (Cameron Brake and Robert Quinn) and a promising rookie LB out of Cleveland Benedictine HS (Jerome Baker). (The Benedictine monks know how to produce tough football players.) On the other side of the ball, Vrabel brought in veteran DC Dean Pees, who coached Vrabel in New England. Pees is the pride of Dola Hardin Northern HS, just north of where QC is writing this. So Pees is a favorite son on QuantCoach. But a scan of the Tennessee roster shows LB Wesley Woodyard is still penciled in as a starter at LB. Didn't Vrabel and Pees see the Patriots Tom Brady target Woodyard 11 times and succeed 9 times for completions for 84 yards (76 yards after the catch)? QC is confident Miami HC Adam Gase did. Gase is probably chomping at the bit to get QB Ryan Tannehill back and let him go to work with RB Kenyan Drake agaist a pass defense that opponents enjoyed passing on more than any other. This is for cash so we can't give home boy Pees a pass here (pun totally intended). Like Vrabel, he is going to have to prove he can fix the pass coverage before QC will do anything but fade the Titans.

4. UNDER 42.5: Panthers vs. Cowboys
This is an awfully low Limbo stick to try to work under. But there are some good reasons to see how low can you go. First, the Carolina offensive line is mess and Dallas can bring a ton of pressure with Demarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton, and Randy Gregory. In addition, new Panthers' OC Norv Turner has never been one to let pass rush dictate terms to his design. As you saw two years ago in Minnesota when he almost got Sam Bradford killed behind a terrible O-line, Norv will tell his QB to just tough it out and keep calling deep digs. Robo QB Cam Newton can take a pounding, but while Cam is an exceptional power runner for a QB, he is a very poor scrambler under pressure. The view here is that the Cowboys D can stymie the Panthers attack. But Dallas DC Jason Garrett and OC Scott Linehan will have fits with Ron Rivera's D. Remember a few Thanksgivings ago when Luke Kuechly (from some HS in Cincinnati called St. Xavier--think it's new) returned two picks for TDs and his running mate Thomas Davis sacked Tony Romo into retirement? It was a complete design mismatch. Current Cowboys' QB Dak Prescott is much more mobile and Seattle's Russell Wilson has always given Rivera's teams fits. That will help Dallas avoid turnovers, but with a super young and unproven receiving corps, the Cowboys probably can't take advantage of the Panthers' questionable secondary and RB Ezekiel Elliott will have to try to pierce 8-men in the box most of the day as Dallas seeks the 30 rushing attempts they usually need to cover.

5. Buccaneers +9.5 over Saints
All summer long QC thought this was going to be Giants over Jaguars (and QC still likes that play), but the New York bettors have been anxious to get down on the home team and it looks like the hook is gone. So QC has turned his attention to another team that is getting bashed on talk radio on a daily basis: The Buccaneers. Tampa Bay, of course, will be without suspended QB Jameis Winston. In Winston's place will be veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who used to be an automatic no play for QC, espcially on the road. But Fitz is a respectable 10-7-2 ATS in his 18 starts over 3 years, including 2-1 last year. WR Mike Evans and TEs O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are first-class receiving threats who are all big enough to cause trouble in the red zone. Moverover, the D looks a lot better up front with the addition of Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, and No. 1 pick Vita Vea to stop the run and Noah Spence returning from injury to provide pass rush. New Orleans is not quite what it used to be on offense. QB Drew Brees is still plenty dangerous, but his 23 TD passes in 2017 were the least he has thrown in over a decade. Bullish RB Mark Ingram is suspended so Alvin Kamara will have to shoulder the load against the Bucs tough front. The Saints D was dramatically improved and DE Cameron Jordan was arguably the best defensinve player in the NFL in 2017. But it would not be surprising to see some regression back to the mean because DC Dennis Allen, the former Raiders HC, is just meh. New Orleans was just 4-4 ATS at home in 2017 and failed to cover against not only the Patriots (13-3), but also the Bears (5-11), Jets (5-11), and Redskins (7-9). With +9.5 points in pocket, QC is willing back Fitzpatrick against this history.

6. Seahawks +3 over Broncos
It's QC's hunch that the rumors of Pete Carroll's (and the Seahawks') demise have been greatly exaggerated. Seattle had no running game and QB Russell Wilson and company still ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL in play design differential (+2.39%) and turnover differential (+8) and just missed the playoffs at 9-7. Now Wilson has RBs Chris Carson (back from injury) and Rashaad Penny (No. 1 draft pick) behind him and T Duane Brown (for a full year) in front of him. The loss of OL coach Tom Cable is addtion by subtraction if you ask QC. On the other side of the ball, everyone is rooting for LB Shaquem Griffin. And Pete Caroll defenses will always be nasty. Former Vikings DT Tom Johnson will fit right in up front and CB Shaquill Griffin looks ready to replace Richard Sherman as a quality cover corner. The whole "Legion of Boom" thing (Sherman and Michael Bennett) came completely unhinged last year. Carroll will always have some rah-rah college coach in him and that works better with young hungry players than it does with brash, been there-know-it-all players. This team should re-energize Carroll. On the other side of the ball, QC has grave reservations (are there any other kind?) about the Denver design team of HC Vance Joseph, OC Bill Musgrave, and DC Joe Woods. If you look at the coaching stats, Raiders' QB Derek Carr was not really that impressive using Musgrave's designs, other than in the red zone where his natural ability to throw TD passes made Musgrave look good. Rookie FB Royce Freeman looks very impressive, but the O-line is iffy and QB Case Keenum's QB rating was 20 points higher last year than any other year he attempted at least 250 passes. As we all saw in the 2017 NFC Championship, when Keenum comes back to earth, he does so on a wave of turnovers. That does not sound promising for a team that was an awful -17 TOs in 2017. Denver has an amazing record in home openers in the last two decades. That and the over exuberance about Keenum is probably what has driven this line to Broncos -3. QC would make the line Seattle -3. Take advantage of the bargain.

7. Lions -6.5 over Jets
This one makes QC a little uncomfortable. Rookie QBs like Sam Darnold have done surprising well in Week 1 starts against veteran QBs. And Jets HC Todd Bowles has assembled some great pieces in the secondary that should keep Lions QB Matt Stafford from putting up the over 30 points per game he has averaged in his last 5 home openers (4-1 ATS). Still, the Lions look like a team that is packed with pass coverage talent and ready to win now. After all, if Golden Tate could have stretched just bit further on the last play of the game agaist the Falcons, Detroit and not Atlanta would have been in the playoffs. The Lions were +2.01% in play design differential in 2017, which is why it was surprising that Detroit jettisoned HC Jim Caldwell. While new HC Matt Patricia is unproven and Patriots assistants have history of failure, for at least a year QC thinks Patricia will look like the best new hire. The odds of that increase if rookie Kerryon Johnson and veteran Legarrette Blount can keep defenses in base on first down more often than not. No QB has had to work harder for his production than Stafford because the Lions simply have had no back to scare a defense on first down. If the tandem of Johnson and Blount can change that, Stafford will be a strong candidate for NFL MVP. Even if things don't go that well in the long run, QC thinks that this game will stay under, but the Lions still should have enough to win this one by about 10 points.

(Archives Home)

 

They Might Not Be Who We Think They Are

Almost every year, an NFL team that last was seen dwelling at the bottom of its division rises to the very top of its division and just as often somebody in the penthouse takes the elevator to the basement. In 2016, Carolina followed up a 15-1 and appearance in the Super Bowl with a last place finish. Last year, Philadelphia went from NFC East celler-dwellers to Super Bowl Champions. QC thinks the Eagles might have arrived a year ahead of schedule and will be formibable again. But here are 5 teams who might not who they think they will be.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (2017: 10-6; 1st in AFC South)
Jacksonville may be a popular choice to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl after finishing 10-6 and almost getting there in 2017. The defense still looks nasty. But QC is not so sure. The Jaguars finished second in the AFC in play design +/- and were +10 TO and still managed to lose 6 games. Blake Bortles is still the QB here. Last year, Bortles showed that he can play within himself and let the game come to him. But what if he has to do more in 2018? The WR corps has almost no experience beyond Donte Moncreif who the Colts let walk. The TE position is headed by Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Niles Paul, which is not inspiring. Don't expect Jacksonville go over the cliff, but don't be surprised if the Jaguars fall back a little to 9-7 or even 8-8.

2. New York Giants (3-13; 4th in NFC East)
You have to love what the G-men did in the off-season after their 2017 season imploded into a 3-13 dumpster fire that cost HC Ben McAdoo and DC Steve Spagnuolo their jobs. First, NY reloaded with proven play designers in HC Pat Shurmur and DC James Bettcher. When Cleveland's HC, Shurmur was dreafully risk averse. But after spending some time with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, he turned journeyment Case Keenum into a viable NFL QB last year in Minnesota. Meanwhile, at the end of 2017, no defense was balling better than Bettcher's D in Arizona. He brought unheralded DLs Kareem Martin and Josh Mauro with him from the Cardinals and Martin, Mauro and rookie Davlin Tomlinson should fill in adquately for departed Jason Pierre-Paul. New LBs Alec Ogletree and Lorenzo Carter (rookie from Georgia) also are upgrades. On offense, veteran LT Nate Solder and rookie G Will Hernandez upgrade the O-line significantly. And if Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepherd stay healthy, super-soph TE Evan Engram and dyanmite rookie RB Saquon Barkely will give Eli Manning weapons like he has never had in NY.

3. Seattle Seahawks (9-7; 2nd in NFC West)
It seems like a lot of folks are treating the Seahawks like they have jumped in barrel and are ready to go over Niagra Falls. Veteran NFL handicapper @mikewilkening is not amongst them and neither is QC. The Seahawks have finished in the Top 10 in play design +/- every year since QB Russell Wilson arrived. And they have never finished with a negative TO differential in the Wilson era. The O-line will have Duane Brown at LT for a full year and looks way better than the awful unit Wilson has played behind the last 2 years. QC is one of the few people who thinks the loss of OC Darrell Bevell will hurt (Brian Schottenheimber is the new OC), but QC thinks the departure of O-line coach Tom Cable to Oakland is addition by subtraction. Words cannot describe how bad Seattle's pass protection has been under Cable. Moreover, rookie RB Rashaad Penny looks like he as at least some beasty boy in him, perhaps even some beasty mode. On defense, the two big loud names (Sherman, Bennett) and one quieter name (Chancellor) are gone. But S Earl Thomas, LBs Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, and DLs Frank Clark and Jarran Reed are all topflight. And there are few if any play designers in the NFL whose bucket goes deeper in the well of defensive knowledge than Pete Carroll. Sherman and Bennett took Carroll to the mountain top, but his loose hand on the reings works better with a hungry, under-the-radar, team that needs to prove itself to him. This looks like Pete Carroll's kind of team.

4. San Diego Chargers (9-7; 2nd in AFC West)
Welcome to "Philip Rivers Land," Anthony Lynn. In the team's first year under Lynn and in Los Angeles, the Chargers led the AFC in play design +/- at +5.1% and were +12 turnovers. And finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Lynn is learning what Norv Turner and Mike McCoy learned the hard way. Rivers is a the most overrated player in the league and a coach killer. For over 10 years now, the Chargers have put up impressive statistics only to fall short in the Win/Loss column. It is difficult to explain. But for whatever reason, if Rivers does not implode when poise is required, Los Angeles sabotages him and its chances with special teams gaffes. The Rivers-led Chargers are the most mercuiral NFL team coaching stats have ever come across. As usual the playmaking talent looks impressive on paper. And QC loves the additiona of DB Derwin James. He could have Troy Polamalu-like versatility. If he does, look out. But the loss of TE Hunter Henry to injury was a real gut punch. And even Henry, another young player QC loves, was healthy, QC would still caution all (especially all bettors) to treat the Chargers like fireworks on the 4th of July: Avoid handling and just watch your neighbors. It is much safer.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9; 3rd in NFC North)
No tenured NFL HC gets less respect than Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis. While Lewis still has yet to notch a playoff win, he puts a competitive team on the field during the regular season. The Bengals have been positively designed every year for the last 6 years. Lewis gets the most out of his play designers. After an offensively miserable 0-2 start in 2017, Cincinnati promoted Bill Lazor to OC and went 7-7 the rest of the way. The Bengals problems were mostly with the O-line and new T Cordy Glenn and C Billy Price should help greatly there. On defense, Lewis brought in Teryl Austin as DC. Just a few years ago, Austin was a hot HC prospect when Detroit's D turned around. When the Lions let him go, Lewis was quick to pick him up after Paul Guenther left to join Jon Gruden in Oakland. QC thinks this is an upgrade. Remember, Lewis was the play desinger for the great Super Bowl Champion D in Baltimore in 2000. He knows how to design defense. Austin is exactly the kind of designer rehab project at which Lewis excels. Finally, Cincinnati has some impressive new young pieces (DB William Jackson and pass rushers Carl Lawson and Sam "Bad Mutha" Hubbard) to mix with a solid core of veterans.

(Archives Home)